Category Archives: In Court

£200,000 fine for work at height breaches

A London based construction company, Pride Way Development Ltd, has today been fined for repeatedly failing to manage and control fall from height risks.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how, after concerns were raised by both workers and members of the public, HSE inspectors made a number of visits during 2016/17 to sites where Pride Way Development Limited had been appointed the principal contractor. On these visits, inspectors identified a number of serious health and safety failings, including unsafe work at height.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Pride Way had repeatedly breached health and safety legislation which gave rise to significant risk of harm, with four notices served for unsafe work at height in the past five years. A HSE intervention in 2013 resulted in the company drawing up a comprehensive work at height policy which subsequent inspections showed was being ignored.

Pride Way Development Ltd of Harrow Road, Wembley, Middlesex, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. The company has been fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,499.40

Speaking after the case, HSE Inspector Gabriella Dimitrov said: “Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work fatalities in this country, and the risks associated with working at height are well-known.

“Pride Way has been repeatedly warned by HSE about the need to manage risks, and have today been held to account for failing to take adequate action to protect the health and safety of its workers.”

Local authority fined after social workers assaulted

A local authority has been fined after two of its social workers were assaulted on a home visit by the mother of a vulnerable child they were visiting.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 21 July 2015, two social workers employed by London Borough of Brent visited the home of a vulnerable child to carry out a child safety plan assessment. While note-taking, both social workers were struck over the head with a metal object by the mother, resulting in one of them being knocked temporarily unconscious. While both received serious wounds to the head, the social worker knocked unconscious was later diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found the local authority failed to follow its corporate lone working policy or violence and aggression guidance. No risk assessment was completed and staff were not trained accordingly. London Borough of Brent also failed to add an aggression marker to make the social workers aware of the hazards posed by the mother who was known to have a history of violence.

London Borough of Brent of Brent Civic Centre, Wembley pleaded guilty of breaching the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, section 2(1) and were fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,918.88

After the hearing, HSE inspector Neil Fry commented: “Violent and aggressive incidents are the third biggest cause of injuries reported to HSE from the health and social care sector.

“The local authority in this case failed to adhere to and implement its own systems and procedure for the management of lone working and violence and aggression against social workers. This risk could have been reduced in a number of ways including carrying out the visit in a controlled environment, such as the local social workers’ office.”

 

Suspended Prison Sentence for Fire Safety Breaches

A Bethnal Green guest house owner who removed the staircase from his property has been hit with a £250,000 fine and a six month suspended prison sentence after being successfully prosecuted by London Fire Brigade.

Fire officers described the ‘City View Guest House’ on Cambridge Heath Road E2 as a ‘potential death trap.’

Mehmood Butt (55) of Mile End was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on Friday (17 November) after pleading guilty to four offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.  In addition to the fine and suspended prison sentence he was ordered to pay full prosecution costs of £14,200 and given a nightly curfew of 21:00 – 06:00.

Mr Butt was converting the building into guest house accommodation from a house of multiple occupation. This involved removing the internal staircase to put in a lift and fitting an open external staircase to the rear of the property which would provide the only emergency means of escape.

The work went ahead despite a Building Regulations application for the refurbishment being turned down due to safety concerns by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

Following a visit to the site by building inspectors in March 2014 the Brigade was alerted and fire safety officers visited the premises and issued an Enforcement Notice requiring the inadequate emergency stairs and other fire safety defects to be addressed

Unsecured swing barrier causes severe injuries and leads to fine and costs

A West Yorkshire sports club has been fined after a postal worker sustained severe injuries when a swing barrier shattered the windscreen of his van and struck him in the face.

According to information entered in the court hearing, on the morning of the incident a member of the club had not secured the barrier to its latch after opening it and that the failure had been an isolated occurrence. It was told this was an unusual case involving a “one-off individual failure” .

The court also heard that since the incident a notice about locking the barrier in position had been put on the gate and a metal column had been welded to the barrier to stop it penetrating the windscreen of any other vehicle.

The club admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act etc 1974 and after considering the legal submissions and sentencing guidelines Judge Burn fined the club £140 for the offence.
The Judge commented that it was clear that on all other occasions the barrier had been secured and it was not a case involving an unsafe system.

“It seems to me that a fine in those circumstances is unavoidable as a disposal in this case,” he concluded.

The judge had been asked to order investigation and legal costs totalling about £4,000, but after hearing about the club’s financial position he decided to make them pay just £146 with a victim surcharge of £14.

“This a not for profit club which is an essential part of the fabric of the community in which it operates, run by volunteers for people of all ages,” he pointed out.

A Bradford Council spokesperson said: “This was a very unfortunate incident that caused serious injury and could have had potentially fatal consequences. We would urge any business that has a similar swing gate on their premises to check and ensure it is being operated safely.”

£1m fine after self employed contractor dies following ladder fall

A Hull-based bakery has been ordered to pay a fine of £1million after a self-employed contractor died when he fell from a stepladder.

HSE inspector Denise Fotheringham said: “Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work related fatalities in Great Britain, the risks associated with working at height are well known.

Work at height regulations require that all work at height is properly planned and appropriate access is provided. If Greencore had carried this out this death could have been prevented.”

Hull Crown Court was told that the worker was contracted to complete electrical work at Greencore Grocery Ltd. The worker was wiring a motor situated above a machine whilst standing on a stepladder. The company agreed this work activity could be completed using a stepladder, which it had provided. The employee fell from the stepladder and suffered fatal injuries.

The HSE investigation found that the company failed to properly plan the activity from the beginning including access arrangements to be made for installation of motors to use to carry out this work activity.

Greencore Grocery Ltd of Apex Park, Amsterdam Road, Sutton Fields Industrial Estate Hull, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974

The company was fined £1million and ordered to pay costs of £30,000.

Suspended prison sentence for landlord

A Cornish landlord has been fined after failing to maintain gas appliances at his rental properties.

Truro Crown Court heard how gas appliances in the properties went unmaintained and were not inspected by a registered Gas Safe Register engineer.

An investigation by the HSE found the landlord failed to obtain Landlord Gas Safety Records (LGSR) after May 2014. It was also found that the appliances had not been serviced for at least four years.

The defendant pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 36 (2)(a) and 36 (3)(a) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, and Regulation 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 He has been given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for 24 months, fined £5,000, and ordered to pay costs of £5,524.

Construction Boss Jailed

A boss of a construction firm has received a 12 month prison sentence following trial at The Old Bailey.

Amanda Telfer was killed when a stack of large unglazed frames collapsed on her as she walked past a building site in Hanover Square, central London. Members of the public rushed to help, but Telfer could not be saved and she was pronounced dead at the scene just before noon on 30 August 2012.

A jury found the supervisor at IS Europe Ltd, Kelvin Adsett, 64, of Slough, Berkshire, guilty of manslaughter and breaching health and safety. It was said on his behalf that his life was destroyed as the result of “an aberration of carelessness”.

Sentencing him to 12 months in prison, Judge Peter Rook QC told him: “Your actions contributed to the wholly needless and untimely death of Amanda Telfer.” The judge said he had shown “reckless disregard” for what was a life-threatening situation.

Westgreen Construction Limited site manager Damian Lakin-Hall, 50, of Cobham, Surrey, was convicted of failing to take reasonable care of safety while at work.   Rook sentenced him to six months’ jail, suspended for two years.

The court had heard how the frames, which together weighed 655kg, had been left leaning against a wall after being delivered the previous day, before the site was ready for their installation.

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said it was “obvious to anyone” they carried a “clear and serious risk of death” to anyone walking past.

The frames were seen to move in the wind, prompting concern from the public that they might fall into the busy central London street. Another member of the public had almost been hit in a “near-miss” at the site just days before the fatal accident, the court heard.

Atkinson said: “There were a series of obvious and, in many cases, straightforward steps that could have been taken to avoid that risk – ranging from cancellation, delay, refusal of delivery on the one hand, to the storage, the use of straps and barriers. None were taken by any of the defendants and Amanda Telfer died as a result.”

Almost half a million pounds costs and fine for failings which resulted in death of elderly resident

Following our earlier post in relation to the court case brought by Surrey Fire and Rescue Service after the tragic death of Irene Cockerton, the operator of the sheltered housing scheme where she lived has been prosecuted and handed out fines and costs totally almost half a million pounds.

Among the failings found against Firstport were:

·         Omitting to carry out a suitable risk assessment which placed Mrs Cockerton and others in danger of death and serious injury from fire

·         Significant breaches in the integrity of roof space compartmentalisation which increased the spread of the flames

·         Greasy vapours and deposits from kitchens increased the danger of a blaze spreading

·         Failing to put in place a proper evacuation procedure in the event of a fire, particularly in view of the vulnerability of residents.

·         Omitting to act on warnings given earlier by people who had carried out past inspections and allowing the condition of the roof space fire curtains to fall into disrepair

·         Area and house managers not given satisfactory training – a failure which placed one or more persons at risk of death and injury in case of fire.

Sentencing yesterday Judge Stephen Climie slapped Firstport with a £600,000 fine, reduced to £400,000 on account of the company’s admissions and then £360,000 due to mitigating circumstances, including the company’s full co-operation with the investigation.

The Hampshire-based company was also ordered to pay an additional £100,000 court costs, bringing the total financial penalty to £460,000.

Judge Climie praised “the bravery” of Surrey Fire and Rescue Service, which brought the case against Firstport.

“The Surrey fire service are to be commended in terms of the way which they dealt with a very rapidly worsening situation,” he said.

Judge Climie also praised Mrs Cockerton’s family for their conduct during the case: “I note the extraordinary dignity with which her family have faced this case,” he said.

 

Care home facing massive fine after inadequate fire safety precautions led to fatal blaze

Irene Cockerton, 87, from west London, died in the fire at Gibson Court, Hinchley Wood, in September 2011

Inadequate fire safety precautions led to the death of an 87-year-old widow in her smoke-filled flat after a raging inferno engulfed the roof of a block of retirement apartments

The blaze, which claimed the life of Irene Cockerton from west London, swept through the loft of Gibson Court in a matter of minutes because there were no compartmental walls to check its progress

The fire was accelerated by a build-up of cooking grease caused by the kitchen vents of the flats, which opened into the roof space instead of through outside walls, the court was told.

Poor staff training in emergency exit procedures also put the lives of Mrs Cockerton’s 22 fellow residents and their fire-fighting rescuers in peril, the hearing heard.

The four-count indictment admitted by Firstport covered a host of failings by the Hampshire-based company, including:

  • Omitting to carry out a suitable risk assessment which placed Mrs Cockerton and others in danger of death and serious injury from fire
  • Significant breaches in the integrity of roof space compartmentalisation which increased the spread of the flames
  • Greasy vapours and deposits from kitchens increased the danger of a blaze spreading
  • Failing to put in place a proper evacuation procedure in the event of a fire, particularly in view of the vulnerability of residents.
  • Omitting to act on warnings given earlier by people who had carried out past inspections and allowing the condition of the roof space fire curtains to fall into disrepair
  • Area and house managers not given satisfactory training – a failure which placed one or more persons at risk of death and injury in case of fire.

Lawyer’s death was preventable – 4 on trial

The trial of 4 people and 3 companies commenced in February at The Old Bailey after the tragic death of a young lawyer back in 2012.

Amanda Telfer, 43, was killed when window frames due to be installed in a building in Hanover Square fell onto her as she walked past the building.  The window frames had been left stacked up against a wall the previous day, unsecured, unrestrained and weighing a total of half a tonne.

Four people and three companies deny a total of 13 charges over her death.

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said builders were not ready to install the frames but that they were delivered anyway.

He said it was “obvious to anyone” that the heavy frames, which together weighed 1,444lb (655kg), carried a “clear and serious risk of death”, including to those walking past.

Mr Atkinson told the court: “There were a series of obvious and, in many cases, straightforward steps that could have been taken to avoid that risk, ranging from cancellation, delay, refusal of delivery on the one hand, to the storage, the use of straps and barriers.

“None were taken by any of the defendants and Amanda Telfer died as a result.”

The jury at the Old Bailey was told how another member of the public had almost been hit in a “near-miss” at the site just days before the fatal accident.

Work was “routinely carried out” on the pavement and equipment was stored there overnight, but there was no external barrier to separate the working area from the public, Mr Atkinson said.

“In the days before the accident, a plywood hoarding had fallen from one of the apertures on the building, almost hitting a member of the public as he made his way home.”

Mr Atkinson said the alleged incident raised questions over health and safety at the site.

Damian Lakin-Hall, 50, from Cobham, Surrey, Claire Gordon, 36, from Leeds, and 64-year-old Kelvin Adsett – also known as Kelvin Schultz – from, Slough, Berkshire, deny manslaughter and health and safety breaches.

Steven Rogers, 62, from Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, pleaded not guilty to a single charge of failure to take reasonable care for safety while at work as an employee of Westgreen Construction.

IS Europe of Slough, Westgreen Construction, of Richmond in Surrey, and Drawn Metal of Leeds, also deny health and safety charges.